Bridges to host prom for community members

Jan. 23—Adults who want to relive their prom can do so by attending Bridges Prom 2.0 on Feb. 11 inside the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom at the University Of Oklahoma's Memorial Union.

The event starts at 8 p.m. and goes until midnight. This year's theme is Myths and Legends.

Bridges is a Norman-based nonprofit that provides up to 20 apartments for high school students that would otherwise be unhoused.

Bridges Prom 2.0 is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and proceeds from the event support local students.

"When you think of IT, 2.0 is a new version of it," said Bianca Gordon, Bridges associate executive director. "It is a way for adults to redo their prom and support high school students living independently."

Gordon said Bridges is important to the community because it allows vulnerable students to graduate from high school, and that students who receive their diplomas are more likely to succeed in life.

"We are unique in that our mission is to get high school students who live alone through high school," she said. "There are plenty of other shelters and youth shelters, but not necessarily another one that is specifically connected to high school education."

Gordon said the main purpose of Bridges Prom 2.0 is to raise funds in a fun way for the organization.

"Interested people have a good time coming together and listening to live music. They get to eat good food and get to vote on prom candidates, just like they would when they were in high school," she said. "They have a good time knowing that the money they are putting into the tickets or for a table is going to a good cause."

Prom 2.0 was conceptualized a decade ago by Leadership Norman, supported by the Norman Chamber of Commerce. Scott Martin, chamber president, was previously voted king and his wife was voted queen.

"About a decade ago, one of our leadership Norman classes came up with a leadership project, so they put on a fundraising event and created Prom 2.0," Martin said. "It emanated from the Norman Chamber's Leadership Norman class, so we have a unique partnership."

Bridges' rooms are 400 square feet, and they are located off of Stubbeman Avenue, about one block from Norman North High School, but students are allowed to attend either Norman North, Norman, or Dimensions high schools.

While some of the students have always lived in the Norman North district, some students originate from Norman-feeding schools, so NPS provides transportation to allow them to attend a school where they are comfortable, which increases the likelihood of graduation.

"Depending on where they originated, we want to try to maintain their environment, so if they are used to Norman High School, we want them to go where they are comfortable," Gordon said. "If they want to walk across the street and need a change, that's great as well."

Tory Loffland, education and outreach coordinator at Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, said that she first learned about the event at its inaugural year by accident.

"We just saw a poster. It was only after getting there that we learned it was a fundraiser," she said.

Loffland said that it is the most fun event throughout the year, and she continues to support it because of its mission.

"I have a deep love for Bridges because of the impact it has on young people," she said. "If we want to make a dent on poverty, we need to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to succeed."

The annual event is frequented by businesspeople, past volunteers, and prominent members of the community, as well as locals who want an excuse to have fun.

"The work they do for and behalf of students is incredible," Martin said. "They provide amazing opportunities for students that find themselves in a challenging situation. They have incredible success stories because of the work that takes place at Bridges."

Oklahoma Memorial Union is located at 900 Asp Ave. The cost is $50, and tickets can be purchased at bridgesnorman.org/2023-bridges-prom/.